A Tragedy and a New Beginning
Laurelee Undertakes The Children's Instruction
As our children reached school age, Laurelee undertook their instruction. A highly educated scientist herself, she understood what they needed to learn, but she had no experience in teaching children. Moreover, she worked virtually full time with me in our civil defense work and our research work; she was still bearing new children and caring for infants; and she was carrying out a significant amount of farm work in addition to the usual household chores.
As an aid to her growing home school (all of our children have been entirely home schooled), Laurelee purchased educational materials and curricula from a wide variety of sources. These she melded into a curriculum along with a large amount of Christian materials that she purchased. (She purchased so many Sunday school materials, that the people at the local Christian bookstore thought that we were operating a church.)
She Created An Entire Twelve Grade Curriculum with One Flaw
Not knowing whether or not these materials would be available to us in the future, she created an entire twelve grade curriculum for each of the six children and obtained all of the necessary materials for that curriculum. These she organized meticulously in the order that they would be used. That curriculum occupies the equivalent of about five large filing cabinets and is in perfect order.
This effort, in degrees that vary according to the resources, education, abilities, and motivations of the parents, is one that is being undertaken today in tens of thousands of home schools across America. It is being made increasingly effective by the growth of many excellent businesses that supply materials and curricula to home schools.
Laurelee's effort was truly outstanding. It allowed for every academic eventuality and it utilized the very best materials available. It even included life insurance on me, so that she would be able to continue the home school in the event of my death. Her plan had only one flaw - a flaw that neither she nor I ever considered.
The plan assumed that she would be alive to teach.
A Class Without A Teacher
When she died suddenly after an illness that lasted less than 24 hours her class contained Zachary, Noah, Arynne, Joshua, Bethany, and Matthew - then ages 12, 10, 9, 7, 7, and 17 months - a class without a teacher.
As I assumed her work including cooking, laundry, and other household tasks, and continued the farm and professional work without her by my side, there was no possibility that I could even read the curriculum that she had so carefully created - much less have the time to teach it to the children.
Friends tried to help, but the problem seemed to be intractable.
What happened then, with the Lord's help, was remarkable.
What happened then, with the Lord's help, was remarkable. Gradually, over the next two years and building upon the environment that their mother and I had already created for them and some rules of study that I provided, the children solved the problem themselves. Not only did they solve it themselves, they created a home school that, in many ways, points toward answers to some of the difficulties enumerated above.
Gradually, with occasional coaching and help from me, they created a home school that actually needs no teacher and is extraordinary in its effectiveness.